• Wednesday, February 28, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Apple opens first India store in Mumbai

Hundreds of admirers of the iPhone giant queued around the store in a swanky shopping mall in the financial capital Mumbai, some of them waiting overnight

Chief Executive Officer of Apple Tim Cook (C) poses for a selfie with a woman during the opening of Apple’s first retail store in India, in Mumbai on April 18, 2023. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

Apple opened its first retail store in India on Tuesday (18), underscoring the US tech titan’s increasing focus on the South Asian nation as a key sales market and alternative manufacturing hub to China.

Apple CEO Tim Cook personally opened the doors to welcome customers as staff cheered.

Hundreds of admirers of the iPhone giant queued around the store in a swanky shopping mall in the financial capital Mumbai, some of them waiting overnight.

The California-based firm is betting big on the nation of 1.4 billion people, home to the second-highest number of smartphone users in the world, after China, with a second store to open in the capital Delhi on Thursday (20).

The world’s biggest company in terms of market value is also expanding its manufacturing footprint in India as it seeks to diversify its supply chain away from a heavy dependence on neighbouring China.

Apple called the stores a “major expansion” of its presence in India in a statement on Monday (17).

“We’re excited to build on our longstanding history,” Cook said in the statement.

Apple launched its online store in India in 2020, but had not opened an official physical shop until now due to previous investment rules, since relaxed, requiring foreign retailers to source 30 percent of raw materials locally, and pandemic delays.

Sales and marketing executive Purav Mehta, 30, camped overnight outside the store ahead of the opening, bringing with him his still-unopened 2013 iPod Touch.

“We’ve been looking forward to it… for a long time we’ve been waiting for this,” he said.

Stationery dealer Madhav Mimani, 27, travelled about 900 kilometres (560 miles) from Rajasthan for the event.

“I think with Apple manufacturing in India, the prices are going to go down because it’s local manufacturing, which makes the iPhones affordable,” he said.

“It also increases chances of the Indians buying iPhones made in India because of the sentimental value.”

India has more than 600 million smartphone users, with Android devices dominating the price-sensitive market.

Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, vivo, OPPO and realme had a combined market share of 66 per cent in 2022, according to research firm Canalys, while Samsung held a 19 per cent share.

Apple’s iPhones compete in the premium segment of the market and had just a four per cent share last year.

But Canalys analyst Sanyam Chaurasia said that Apple could benefit from the premiumisation of India’s smartphone market and financing schemes for both retailers and consumers.

“Apple is emphasising more on the Indian market because they see more opportunity,” he said.

(AFP)

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